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Pay Up!

The Irish Times has reported Treasury Holdings v O’Kennedy (Dublin Circuit Court).

Treasury Holdings succeeded in its proceedings against Mary O’Kennedy. She failed to complete the purchase of an apartment from Treasury. She also failed to “engage” with Treasury, from which we can only surmise she did not properly defend the proceedings. Consequently we can only assume certain things;
1. She lacked the finance to buy, due to the collapse in the market providing mortgage finance; or
2. She sought to avoid completion because the market value was now less than the purchase price;
3. She was a “consumer”. She would, therefore, have had the benefit of the provisions of S.I. No. 27/1995 European Communities (Unfair Terms In Consumer Contracts) Regulations, 1995. Of course, if a proper defence is not advanced in the proceedings that benefit, if any, would be wasted
4. Her contract had a standard loan approval clause. Contracts for the purchase of property of the value of this apartment would normally contain a loan approval clause. If Ms. Kennedy was relying on drawing down borrowed finance to fund the purchase, that loan approval clause was a vital term her solicitor would require to be inserted before she signed the contract. There is no difficulty accessing suitable terms for such a clause; the Law Society of Ireland has published one (December 1979).
5. There is a problem however with most mortgage loan approvals; they do not guarantee the actual provision of the money. They are subject to conditions and the offer of finance can be withdrawn before drawdown.
6. The Law Society clause is slightly odd in its terms. It contains the words;

“…the loan approval is conditional on a survey satisfactory to the lending institution or a mortgage protection or life assurance policy being taken out or some other condition compliance with which is not within the control of the purchaser the loan shall not be deemed to be approved until the purchaser is in a position to accept the loan on terms which are within his reasonable power or procurement”

Arguably, the phrase “accept the loan” must mean “accept the money” as opposed to “accept the offer of money”.
7. There is, nonetheless, the possibility of the purchaser having a loan approval clause and a loan approval and being left without the money and with the liability under the contract.
8. Worse than that, developers often demand the deletion of the loan approval clause after the issue of the loan approval letter to the purchaser. (They refrain from returning the contract, signed by the developer, having received it signed from the purchaser). Deletion should be resisted.
9. A solicitor would be wise to get the agreement of the purchaser in writing to the deletion of the loan approval clause and wiser still to tell the purchaser in writing that the contract is no longer conditional and that he or she will be required to complete even if he or she cannot obtain a mortgage.
10. That aside, it is not wise to put up no defence to the developer’s proceedings seeking specific performance of the contract.